DISCLAIMER: I certainly don't own Naruto or any other anime. Naruto is owned by Masashi Kishimoto and all the credit really belongs to him. This fanfiction is created for entertainment purposes only. I don't make money off of this and I'm doing it all for my enjoyment and hopefully for others to be entertained.
The Hyuuga Way
For the Hyuuga family the one thing that mattered more than anything was tradition. The Hyuuga family still observes many of the older rituals and interests. For those that know of the family, they are a family steeped in tradition and lore. Their place is to protect Konohagakure and keep it from all enemies at any cost.
Hyuuga Hinata was a failure. For the longest time it had been ground into her that she was weak, insufferable, a disgrace. Now, on the advent of her 16th birthday, much of that has changed. She is no longer considered a weak little girl. Her father, the one who had once considered her useless to the family, has named her heir to the family. Hyuuga Neji, the genius who had taken such delight in belittling her before her peers, is now her protecter from those forces outside the village that may seek to harm her. For the heir, there is little left, but in inevitable...
Silently Neji stalks down the hallway toward Hinata's room. He did not need to use his Byakugan to sense that his cousin was located within. it was apparent by the shuffling within. Pausing a moment, Naji takes a deep breath and knocks upon the entryway, "Hinata-sama. Your father, Hyuuga-sama requests your presence to speak upon a matter."
Inside the room, Hinata blinks. 'Father is requesting me? I did not expect him to wish to speak with me for a few more days. It would be rude to make him wait.' Lifting herself from the floor, Hinata replies, "One moment Neji-oniisan." With a frown she looks at the grey jacket she tended to wear outside of the of the family home. No, in front of her father it would be rude to wear such a thing. She turns to the mirror, ensuring that her black shinobi garm was impeccable and her hair presentable before she opens the door and gives a small respectful bow, "My apologies Neji-oniisan. I am ready."
Neji gives a curt nod before turning to head down the hall. They pass in silence, as if neither of them truely existed. Their footsteps left no trace as to their passing. As they walk, Hinata's mind drifts. 'What could father wish of me? Perhaps he finally wishes to chide me on my mission preformance. Otherwise, all the family business has been preformed to my knowledge.'
Neji stops and opens the door to the room. Hinata gives a small smile and bows to her guardian before stepping into the room 'This room? I haven't seen this room in ages..' is what passes through her mind as she enters the quiet side room where her father spent his relaxing time trimming bonzai.
Hyuuga Hiashi had felt his daughter coming this way. In some ways he knew it was time, in other ways he was not prepared for this eventuallity. However, it was not only what was best for Hinata, but what was best for the Hyuuga family and the village as a whole. He mind turns from his thoughts as he hears the shifting fabric of his daughters outfit as she bows.
"Otousan. I am here as you requested." Hinata's voice is quiet, but it is a testament to her training that she does not stutter in his presence. As her father motions, she steps forward and kneels beside her father, watching his trim the small tree with loving care.
"Hinata. Much like this tree, it has taken years, but you have become quite beautiful. I am proud of you." Hiashi begins. The small scissors moving carefully to a wayward sprig and snips with tender care, "As you know, we of the Hyuuga family owe much to Konohagakure. It is our honor to make sure that we are the best asset they have."
Hinata pauses, typically she could tell were the conversations were leading when she talked with her father, however, this time was quite different. Her father seemed to be slightly on edge. As if the subject was something that he would have rather avoided altogether. "Yes Otousan."
Hiashi smiles and looks over the bonzai with a trained eye. This would be the most difficult part of the speach, for him anyway. "For that reason, I have spoken to the Hokage and arranged a marriage for you."
Hinata's spirit droops, her body sagging ever so slightly at the news. She had been expecting such news sooner or later, though she would have dearly loved for th information to have been much later. Her duty however, was the villiage and to the family. It had always been that way. All her life she had been reminded of her place and she would not forget that. "Who am I to marry Otousan?" Her voice is dry and less emotional than usual.
Hiashi had expected such a reaction. He had responded much the same way when he had found out about the marriage his own parents had arranged. Carefully, he relaxes himself, not wishing to give anything away to his daughter, "You are to wed the one known as Uzumaki Naruto."
For the moment, the world seemed to stop for Hinata. Her mind wanted to shut down for this had to be a dream. her stomach was suddenly full of butterflies, and her mind was full of questions. Propriety allowed her to give a modest blush as her voice grows slightly bold, "May I ask why Otousan? For a long time Na-" She pauses, realizing her mistake before she completed the word, "Uzumaki-san has never been popular with our family, nor is he popular with the rest of the village. It seems...out of place."
'When did she get so bold? Or perhaps she always was so bold, I did not allow myself to see it' Hiashi reflects before giving a small chuckle, "I have spoken on the subject with your team mates and Neji. Although to fully understand my desision, you must understand duty, honor, and love." He pauses a moment and then hands a set of bozai shears to his daughter, "Here. This will allow you to relax as we speak."
Hinata reaches out and takes the shears tentatively. The bonzai in this room were something that dated before her birth. It was something she knew her father and her mother had done together and she dearly did not wish to ruin one of the lovely trees, "Y-yes Otousan."
Placing his own shears down, he reaches over to guide his daughter's untrained hands, "For a shinobi, there are two ways love can go. You can love, and this love can make you weak. It can cause you to falter. It can cause you to ignore your training in favor of your loved one. It can cause you to farsake all that you have for one person, in the end betraying all that you knew for a fleeting moment with this one person"
Hinata nods slowly, things were beginning to make a little more sense now. Much of that applied to her when she was younger. It was embarressing, but true. The fact that it had all but ostracised her from her family did not make her yearning to be loved in return any less. Her hand, guided by her father, carefully snips at a rogue leaf.
"On the other hand," Hiashi continues, "There are times when love can make you stronger. Its force changing the destiny of entire nations. Its purity drives even the meek to become better." As Hinata nods her understanding, he continues, "You were never truely weak Hinata. Your combat abilities progessed as natural. The only thing that kept you back was yourself. I feared that by allowing you to love you would turn even further from the path. I did not wish for my daughter to become a tragic part in a story told to young kunoichi. You were only a failure because your love made you a failure at that point."
As she listens, Hinata was quite glad to have the bonzai to think of as well. The words of her father were not ones that she had ever expected. In retrospect, she could fully understand her fathers point. Before the Chuunin exam she had constantly failed to meet expectations. not because she could not do the job, but because she had always been worried about what Naruto or her father would think and say.
Hiashi pauses, allowing Hinata to think a bit upon his words before continuing, "From all accounts this is no longer the case. While perhaps your missions do not allways succeed, nobody can expect all missions to go as planned. However, there has been a marked difference in your training. Your love has made you stong, given you the ability to raise yourself beyond the limits that were once yours." The small smile creeps over his face, "And from what I hear, Uzumaki-san similarly benefits from your words and deeds"
Hinata pauses once more. She had heard Naruto thank her for her words before, but she had no idea it had gotten back to her father. How much else did her father know?
"It is because you benefit from each other that Hokage Tsunade-sama and I believe this marriage to be in the best interests of the family, and the village as a whole." Hiashi turns back towards the plants and lifts his own shears, confident that Hinata would do a fine job with her bonzai, "As your mother enjoyed saying, We will do what is best for all. That is The Hyuuga Way. I am just glad that The Hyuuga Way will make you happy for once Hinata."
Hours later, Hinata leaves the Hyuua home, intent on getting at least a little training in before dinner. The walk was not overly far, but enough that it gave ehr time to reflect upon the discussion she had with her father that day. Perhaps, she needed to keep all things in persective. Her father was one of the more insightful people she knew and if he had arranged this with the approval of the Hokage, then she was sure that it would turn out well. As she nears the training ground, she seens a flash of orange that disrupts her thoughts. At 16, Naruto had indeed become a handsome man. His insight was lacking, but that was one of the things she adored about him, his ability to be in total control of a fight and yet he could miss the obvious in the day to day. It reminded her that even the most powerful shinobi had their weak spots.
"Hey Hinata! I always thought you practiced earlier in the day." Naruto observes
"Y-yes, normally I do, b-but I had family m-matters to a-attend to today Naruto-kun..." Hinata kicks herself mentally, a blush creeping over her face from both speaking to Naruto and her seemingly uncontrolable stutter around him. 'Why do I stutter? This is the man whom I am to marry now, though I doubt he knows it yet. Still, it's not as though another girl will take him now. Perhaps, perhaps this is like the bonzai?' Her mind wonders for a few moments before beginning to relax.
Naruto tilts his head slightly, "Are you ok Hinata? You look a little red."
Hinata gives a small shake of her head, "I am fine Naruto-kun. I was just...startled." Hinata takes another breath, concentrating on the relaxing feeling of the bonzai trimming. Perhaps that is why her father had brought her into that room. Would her father have had problems speaking without a way to calm himself down as well? It was possible.
Naruto smiles, "That's good. I wouldn't want you to get sick or anything. I was heading over to Ichiraku to get some Ramen before training, did you want to come too?"
She could feel her cheeks start to flush once more as she replies, "Yes, that would be great"
Naruto starts to say something but instead starts heading toward Ichiraku, moving quietly with Hinata by his side until finally he speaks up again, "Hinata. I'm not too good with titles...don't you have one? I'm sure I've heard people use one before."
Part of her wanted to sink down, another part wanted to deny it all, but that wouldn't be right. Finally she replies, "Yes...I have two titles at the moment...but I would rather you not use them."
As always, the curious Naruto could not leave well enough alone, "Well, I should use something." His face contorts a little as he thinks on the subject.
Th face on Naruto is priceless, the look causes Hinata to give a small giggle as she finally admits quietly, "There is one I like, but you already use it for someone else..."
Once more Naruto turns his attention back to Hinata, "Really? Go on, you can't say something like that and keep me waiting!" The loudness coming back into his voice as he gets excited.
Hinata pauses. How did she get herself into this mess? Better yet, how would she get herself out? As she looks at Naruto, she thinks of the time with the bonzai and how relaxing it was before saying quietly, "Naruto-kun, I would like it if you called me Hinata-chan."
Naruto places his hands behind his head, walking slowly as he tests it out, "Hinata-chan...Hinata-chan...It suits you." He comments finally, and gives a smile, opening the door to Ichiraku, "Well, let's get our ramen and then head out to practice, ok Hinata-chan?"
Hinata beams, entering the ramen diner, "Ok Naruto-kun." With that, both of them disappear into the shop to eat.
Back outside, Neji shakes his head and walks the other way, "Took them long enough. Now I'm late..." As he enters the training field a set of shuriken sink into the ground at his feet.
"Hyuuga Neji! You were supposed to be here an hour ago!" Tenten exclaims, obviously upset that her team mate would show any kind of irresponsibility.
Lee gives a smile, "Perhaps Neji-san is losing the flames of his youth?" He quips, giving a smile.
Naji shakes his head and settles into a fighting stance, "No, had to make sure the flames of youth were burning brightly for a couple others. Now, let's get going. I have to practice." Internally Neji sighs, 'One day, I shall be as strong as you Hinata-sama'
This story just kind of popped into my head as I was flipping through some of my old Legend of the Five Rings books. Historically, noble families in Japan and China married for political purposes. Love was considered to be dangerous, something that weakened a warriors duty to their lord. However, as reviled as those that fell in love and failed were, those that succeeded against all odds were considered to be blessed by the gods. I suppose I'm just a romantic at heart, though I definately enjoy a good fight scene too. Hopefully, this is a decent story to keep me working on the other, much longer, Naruto story I'm working on.